Imran Khan on Saturday, 18th August 2018 was sworn in as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan. Among those who attended the swearing-in ceremony, Former Indian cricketer and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was the only minister from India to visit Pakistan as a goodwill ambassador. Sidhu sat in the front row next to Pakistan – occupied Kashmir president Masood Khan and faced serious flak for embracing Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa twice. This soon brought in disapprovals from the BJP. Haryana minister Anil Vij called it ‘an act of betrayal to the country’. In Delhi, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra called it a shameful deed. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy launched a massive attack on Sidhu as well thus, resulting in the demand for stringent actions against Sidhu to be taken up by the Congress party. This has also led the Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to condemn Sidhu’s action.
In response to all the criticisms, Sidhu justified his visit as an act of ‘peace’ and on the grounds of 35 years old friendship with Imran Khan. Sidhu also pointed out that Pakistan’s army chief general Bajwa talked about opening the Kartarpur route on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev which is a developmental act for the Sikhs living in India.
In defense, the Congress leadership sense that the Sidhu-Bajwa hug does not have to an evil inclination towards the nation. The Congress party expects a revolution in India-Pakistan relations. It is also viewing it as a strong move towards paving the way for Sikhs to go on a pilgrimage to Kartarpur Gurdwara that could gratify the Sikh community. The Sikh community has been requesting the central government, BJP for the inauguration of this route for a while. The Congress party has tried to dilute the criticisms for now with its promotion of tolerance for both the countries. This does not look good for the party since #CongressHugsTerror is one of the topics on Twitter.
As the debate continues, people have correspondingly appreciated Sidhu’s presence in the swearing-in ceremony in Islamabad. Some have even put forward the notion that why PM Modi’s similar visit wasn’t called as unfaithfulness to the country and named the bashing of Sidhu’s action as hypocrisy.
Various motions, on the other hand, stressed on the view that rather than looking at this issue as a threat to India, this should be seen as the possibility of the emergence of peace between the two nations. The political leaders should, for once refrain from mud-slinging and observe Imran Khan’s take on policies that will affect its relationship with India and other neighbouring countries in Asia as well as its relations with the US as not a while ago American officials fumed over Pakistan for its alleged support to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Although this could also dismantle the relationship between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.